"A Separation", by Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, is a masterpiece. It's an intensely moving film about real human beings who face real dilemmas. The script is very complex and full of unexpected twists and turns. It shows that there is no need for explosions, car chases and serial killers to create suspense.
Set in contemporary Iran, "A Separation", is a compelling drama about the dissolution of a marriage. Simin wants to leave Iran with her husband Nader and daughter Termeh in search of a better life in another country. Simin sues for divorce when Nader refuses to leave behind his father, who is suffering from dementia. When her request is rejected Simin moves back to her parents’ home, while Termeh decides to stay with her father. Nader hires the devout Razieh, whose hot-tempered husband is out of work, to look after his father during the day. One day Nader comes home to find his father lying on the floor and Razieh gone. When Razieh returns he chases her out of his apartment. Razieh falls down the stairs and subsequently has a miscarriage. What started as a family drama turns into a thriller.
Farhadi brilliantly captures the complexities of life and the misunderstandings that often lie at the root of conflict. He also questions the capacity of the law to arbitrate in the sometimes messy complexities of life.
"A Separation" is also a film about a country that is divided by gender, class and religion. If you look carefully you notice that Simin and Nader are also visually separated, by walls, by glass partitions or simply by the space between them. Termeh is caught in the middle, forced to choose, first by her parents and then by the law.